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Key Trends and Assumptions

The following trends and assumptions provide a quick overview of some of the high-level issues related to Thriving Economy. They are intended to provide a baseline understanding of emerging trends, preferences, and opportunities that may affect how Colorado Springs will grow and change in the coming years. This foundation sets up PlanCOS to provide tailored policy direction and implementation strategies. More background information can be found in Appendix A: State of the City Snapshots.

  • New business development and attraction are important, but most job growth will come from expansion of existing businesses and spin-offs within related industries. The fundamentals of sites, workforce, and targeted incentives are key for both. 
  • Technology will drive a majority of industry growth in the near and long term. While automation may remove the need for some jobs, technology may also create additional economic opportunities. Sectors, such as cybersecurity and datacenters have the greatest potential for technology-related growth.
  • The impact of the shared economy and independent work will continue to increase. This type of work is a necessary alternative for people who can’t find traditional jobs. Growth is seen in the increased popularity of digital platforms. In turn, people now have a greater ability to choose where they want to live first and find a job second; the opposite of what has traditionally been the case.
  • There will continue to be less emphasis on the traditional workplace and more need for spaces that nimbly adapt to changes in technology and market demand.
  • The Colorado Department of Labor predicts that the majority of jobs created in the next few decades will be at medium-wage levels. A proactive community response will be necessary to capture jobs that provide higher-than-average wages.
  • Future military employment levels in the Pikes Peak Region are difficult to predict. As military base missions change, this will have impacts to the city. The City expects to proactively and collaboratively support existing missions and solicit opportunities for new missions of the military. 
  • A sustainable level of efficiently operated core city services, including but not limited to public safety, is recognized as foundational for the success of our Thriving Economy and other goals of this Plan. 
  • Continued increases in online purchasing of goods and services will affect the built environment, particularly but not only for retail establishments. 
  • For revenues necessary to provide ongoing services, maintenance and capital improvements, Colorado Springs has become increasingly dependent on a combination of general and limited purpose sales taxes. This continued reliance should be expected to impact land use policy and choices, including approaches to the fiscal sustainability of development. 
  • For this Plan, it is assumed that TABOR (the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”) will remain in place, thereby requiring a direct role of the electorate first in deciding to increase or extend taxes or borrowing; and then often in limiting or directing the use and application of tax revenues. In this role, our voters will have a significant responsibility for choices made about funding or not funding priorities identified in this Plan.
  • There has been a tremendous expansion of both the extent and role of special districts within the city. The majority of all new private construction and development will occur within existing and future special districts. These districts are now routinely used to finance a portion of required or desired infrastructure, and are increasingly being used for ongoing services. Districts will have a larger role and influence on how we develop and maintain our public realm in the future.
  • There is an increasing awareness of and desire for sustaining and supporting a localized economy that celebrates and nurtures locally produced goods, products, and services. This desire and trend will need to be reconciled with overall continuing trends towards consolidation of business and services.

Neighborhood Typologies and Framework

Employment centers throughout our city have different characteristics and issues, and therefore are in need of differing priorities and physical elements. This Plan identifies several employment and industry typologies to address and clarify these differences; and to allow for more refined and useful application of City goals and policies. Each typology is intended to broadly encompass a range of specific industries, based on similar physical characteristics and needs. While there are six individual typologies, it should also be understood that none exist in a vacuum, and often there is blending among them. Therefore, not all employment hubs within the city fit conveniently into a single typology, and in many cases, locations (such as Downtown) are appropriate for several typologies.

Local economic development organizations have currently identified three core targeted industry clusters based on our region’s unique competitive advantages and existing strengths. These industries, sports medicine and related health services; professional, scientific and technical services; and aviation and specialty manufacturing, are embedded and highlighted in the typologies below. 
Employment and Industry typologies are as follows:


  1. Cornerstone Institutions
  2. Spinoffs and Startups
  3. The Experience Economy
  4. Life and Style
  5. Industry Icons
  6. Critical Support

These typologies are intended to be used as one tool in guiding City decisions and initiatives including City-initiated master plans, future City zoning plans and requirements, as well as choices about infrastructure and other City investment priorities. These typologies can also be used as a frame of reference for evaluating private land use applications for Comprehensive Plan consistency when this finding is applicable.

Common Desired Elements

Although not universally applicable to all Thriving Economy typologies or all areas within them, many of the following physical elements are broadly desirable for many of them:

  1. Access to or opportunities for well-connected multimodal transportation;
  2. A mix of complementary uses;
  3. A variety of integrated or nearby housing options for employees working in the area;
  4. Opportunities for additional economic development and investment, particularly tied to fiscally sustainable job growth;
  5. Amenities including walkability, parks, gathering places and supporting uses that attract investment and provide value to employees, customers and visitors;
  6. A recognizable and attracting physical design and character; and
  7. Land use integration with surrounding areas.